Thursday, May 25, 2006

Layd Off

Well, I was wrong: I didn't expect it, but as a jury has found Kenneth Lay and Jeff Skilling guilty on charges arising from Enron's collapse. I'm still not convinced that the prosecution actually pinned anything specific on these two (which is different from saying that I believe they're innocent). I suspect that the prosecution's success has more to do with creating the whiff of bad apples (as Senator Paul Sarbanes put it around them.

Getting a handle on this is my job at the moment, and I'm just finishing a working paper on corporate intentionality and responsibility regarding Enron. My line is that it's very hard to think of individuals in corporate contexts as being the authors for corporate actions in any absolute sense and, once you recognise that their authorship is diluted, it's hard to think of them as being entirely responsible.

Anyway, that's to come (next week I hope). In the meanwhile, I'll be curious to know whether the 'wilful ignorance is guilt' ruling, where the judge told the jury that "you may find that a defendant had knowledge of a fact if you find that the defendant deliberately closed his eyes to what would otherwise have been been obvious to him," played a role in Lay's and Skilling's downfall.

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